Facilities management and maintenance are the less glamorous side of the construction industry, but there’s no doubt that these processes are key to keeping the built environment safe, secure, and productive. Working in this area of construction requires just as much precision as every other subsection of the industry.
Mistakes in facilities management can be just as costly, too, with service level agreements (SLAs) requiring providers to maintain agreed high standards of service, or risk SLA violations and hefty penalties - or even losing contracts. It’s not just the direct costs that you need to worry about - if you gain a reputation for violating SLAs, gaining new business will start to get even more difficult.
Despite these costs, all too often maintenance tasks fall through the cracks - usually due to a combination of outdated management systems and human error. However, your clients aren’t going to accept these excuses when you’ve already agreed to meet a certain standard of service in a legal agreement!
Spreadsheets can’t solve everything
Pen and paper scheduling is a thing of the past for the vast majority of construction businesses, with spreadsheets now forming the cornerstone of operations for most. Despite all the strengths of spreadsheets, they can cause as many problems as they solve, particularly in an industry as complex as construction.
First, it’s difficult to get spreadsheets to ‘talk’ to each other. Integrating data from other aspects of your business such as the contract ledger or subcontractor records is complex to manage - and if you don’t have the Excel know-how to set this up with real-time updates, you’ll need to manually paste across data (or refer to another spreadsheet) every time you want to carry out an action like scheduling an engineer or calculating costs. This type of repetitive data input is prone to errors.
Another weakness of spreadsheets is their lack of integration with communication tools. Unless you know your ‘macros’, it’s impossible to have a spreadsheet automatically send out emails when certain conditions are met. When scheduling jobs, you therefore have to do the communication manually, and update your records based on the response of the engineer. Again, this opens the door to more mix-ups and errors. Minimising these mistakes, and resolving them, takes time.
Instead of using a series of siloed spreadsheets, you need a system that covers the entire workflow, from the initial receipt of a work order request from a client, through to scheduling staff to cover it, and eventually invoicing and payment. Such a system must be customisable depending on specific SLAs, but also follow a clear structure that reduces errors and mix-ups.
At Integrity Software, our Works Orders module ticks all these boxes, and the module also integrates with other elements of our construction management software.
Here are just of some of the ways the module can improve the efficiency of your processes:
#1 View all works orders in one place
Gain complete visibility over outstanding works orders from a single screen. Works orders can then be filtered by numerous variables, such as agreement, job type, priority, stage and required completion dates. See at a glance which deadlines are looming and which jobs you can afford to postpone.
#2 Customisable SLAs
SLAs often have different targets and key performance indicators (KPIs), so our software lets you define multiple SLAs and job stages. You have complete control over these stages and targets within the software, so you can easily follow the processes outlined in each agreement.
#3 Quickly produce relevant documents from works orders
Save even more time by producing documents from works orders themselves, without having to leave the software. For example, you could use the initial request to generate service sheet instructions for engineers. Alternatively, create a quote or a proforma invoice using the same information.
#4 Manage and view engineers’ details in one place
Scheduling engineers is straightforward with Evolution M - simply filter by skills or individual and then allocate your chosen engineer, and track their progress.
#5 Mobile integration
Engineers are kept in the loop through ‘app-based’ communication. Engineers are notified of relevant jobs, and can also use their devices to enter data relevant to their work, and update the job status. For example, engineers can record on-site photos and customer signatures which are then stored centrally so you can view and manage them at a later date, update the job tracker to say they have arrived on site, order materials, or mark the job as Complete.
Mobile devices can also be used to complete forms such as Vehicle Checks and Risk Assessments.
#6 Easy invoice creation
Build invoices for jobs from within the software. The system can recognise agreed Schedule of Rates items (and import them where necessary), for quick, easy and accurate invoice generation.
#7 Complete location records
Want to review all previous works orders from a certain location or property? Evolution M holds all that data so you can easily see a history of calls against each location.
Why and how to update your processes
Making changes to your existing works order system may seem daunting, but if you’re to remain competitive, that spreadsheet you set up in the mid-noughties probably won’t cut it anymore. Promising (and delivering) high levels of service to clients will always be in your best interest, as it’ll help you retain your existing clients, build your reputation, and net you more business.
Works order management processes form the foundation of delivering on SLAs, so it’s critical you can carry them out efficiently, reliably and accurately. Whatever technology you currently use to do this, it’s worth evaluating these processes to see where they currently fall short. Speak to the staff who work with these tools on a daily basis - they’ll quickly be able to tell you where the inefficiencies lie.
Once you’ve identified what you’re looking for from a new system, start your research. If, after reading this article, you’d like to add Evolution M to your shortlist, speak to our team - we’ll arrange a free, no obligation demo so you can try out the software for yourself.
In the meantime, take a look at some of our customer stories to see how other businesses like yours have used Evolution M to transform their processes.